The Catalan Diaries:
Carles Puigdemont is about to make a cataclysmic speech regarding the future of Catalonia.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, centre, speaks to the media at a sports center, assigned to be a polling station by the Catalan government and where Puigdemont was originally expected to vote, in Sant Julia de Ramis, near Girona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. ©AP, Francisco Seco
The Catalan president has hinted that at 6pm local time, he will be announcing a unilateral independence after a controversial referendum deemed illegal by Madrid.
The Spanish regional government is intent that this will not happen.
Rajoy has spoken out, saying that his government will do everything to prevent independence from occurring.

Preventative actions could include the arrest of Puigdemont, a suspension of Catalonia's autonomy, and the Triggering of the rather 'nuclear' article 155, which would enable Madrid to take command of the Catalan police force, dissolve the regional government and call a fresh local election.
The threats show that Madrid really has no intention of backing down when it comes to a potential conflict with the Catalan government.

Rajoy has stated that Puidgemont could "end up" like former leader, Lluis Company's who declared independence in 1934. Company's was jailed and later executed in the Franco regime.
Is this a threat from the Spanish Government?
With the memory of October 1st still fresh in mind, wherein Rajoy's intention to prevent the referendum resulted in fierce police brutality against Catalan citizens - and in the face of these renewed threats, will Puigdemont go ahead with the declaration, or will he put forward a new strategy towards a recognized referendum in the future?

If this is the case, would a legally renewed referendum draw out independence from the Catalan voters?
President of the Catalan regional Government Carles Puigdemont leaves after a debate on the government's question of confidence at the Parliament of Catalonia in Barcelona on September 29, 2016. ©AFP, Josep Lago
In an interview with an anti-independence socialist from the Parliament of Catalonia. Raul Moreno describes how his party proposes to deescalate the crisis:

"We propose a constitutional reform to the state of Catalonia. Where Catalonia has more competency, more recognition the right to be a nation within Spain, where their cultures and language have more competency. We want a general reform of these autonomous states. In these reforms, more capacity to say we are Catalonia, because there are many that want it. A legal referendum, where everyone can vote for what they really believe in. 5 years ago, the number of people wanting independence was about 10%. One year ago, it was about 20% of the population. If we lay these proposed changes on the table, I think we can change the minds of many of these people."
But a representative of the Catalan Unity Candidacy, Catalonia's radical far left party, claims that this dialogue will not be effective until Catalonia is recognized as its own State, bringing to attention the need for a real mediator to bring forward the proceedings.
Residential Building on Rambla De Catalunya in Barcelona. Banner reads "Europe Shame on You" ©Sputnik, Maud Start
"The European Union, in my opinion, is not a good mediator. I'm not sure that the EU has a real position in defending Human Rights. After what happened last week, on October 1st, the EU's official position did not include enough about the violation of Human Rights. One of the main conditions of any mediator has to be a person or institution with a real link dedicated to defend human rights," a Catalan Unity Candidacy representative said.
As well as pressure from the Spanish State, there is an economic threat associated with the climax, whatever it might be. The pressure from corporations is heightening. With an eye on the fall in British stability post-Brexit, two major banks are pulling out of Catalonia.

'We hope to put forward plans that do not result in endless negotiations that you have had with Brexit. We will exit within a couple of months, with the correct mediation, hopefully that is all it will take."- Catalan Unity Candidacy.
Large corporations have already put forward the paper work to leave Catalonia, in a bid to retain their access to EU trade.

This puts a strain on the economic viewpoint, which counteracts the initial stimulus to leave, which partly resolved around Catalonia's large contribution to Spain's GDP and tax system.

Protests have sandwiched between the initial referendum and the awaited announcement. Catalans from both sides of the fight have proved their dedication to their causes.

On the one hand, we have the pro-unity supporters, marching through a Barcelona that resounds with shouts of "These police are ours."

On the one hand, we have the pro-unity supporters, marching through a Barcelona that resounds with shouts of "These police are ours."
Anti-independence demonstrators celebrate a rare pro-Spain march in Barcelona on October 8 ©Sputnik, Maud Start
Their recognition of the Spanish Police force suggests their approval of the protection of the state.
A police officer listens to the crowd cheering 'These police are our police' outside the headquarters in Via Laietana, Barcelona. ©Sputnik, Maud Start

On the other hand, we have the pro-independence, joined by pro-unity appealers that march for the right to a real democracy. They chant: "These streets will always be ours."
A statue donned in the Catalan flag looms above the Spanish protest on 8 October, an echo of the pro-independence voices that have been silent in the run up to Carles Puigdemont's speech Tuesday afternoon. © Sputnik, Maud Start
"Democracy is the capacity we have between the laws to transform the lives we live and the economy we live with. The state of Spain and the state of Catalonia are totally democratic societies, we vote here every 2 years."
- Raul Moreno, Parliament of Catalonia.
Press gathers in the Parliament of Catalonia on Tuesday, 10 October, ahead of Carles Puigdemont's speech. ©Sputnik, Maud Start

In both cases, it is clear that the Catalan public is feeling divided, and in many ways neglected by their own Region, by the Spanish state, and by Europe. Given the escalation of the crisis, it is clear that neither Rajoy nor Puigdemont are fulfilling their roles as leaders. As the protagonists, the talks must be initiated by themselves.
"We want to negotiate, but the answer is not endless referendums without talking. For this decision, the best players are not Puidgemont, nor Rajoy. We have to look to them to see the red lines here, to sit down at a table and start the talks. In the end if this does not end up in a legal referendum, then the unilateral manner is not possible."
- Raul Moreno, Parliament of Catalonia.
Leaflets on the road sign in Barcelona read "Vote to be free," "He who doesn't decide is a slave." ©Sputnik, Maud Start
So, will Puigdemont trigger the period of declaration? Will his statement act as a symbolic statement, used as part of a wider strategy to increase the autonomy and recognition of Catalonia?
Reporting by Maud Start
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